The Simpsons: Peeping Mom Review

Dog spelled backwards is Mahershalalhashbaz. Here is our review of The Simpsons season 26 episode 17.

The Simpsons are getting existential. This episode just sort of exists, it just happened, but not much really happened in it. It opens with half the town getting flattened by a runaway bulldozer and stops short of knocking out any new ground. Peeping Mom wasn’t even a refried old episode, it was new nothing and not in a satisfying Seinfeld way. This episode veered very close to the ultimate sin in comedy, being boring.

Bart did something bad and Santa’s Little Helper is being neglected. Two comic chestnuts that have been roasted much better in the past. Lisa is also being neglected but, we’ll ignore that for now. Even Grandpa refers to the middle Simpson child as “little girl.”

The best scene in the night was Homer and Lisa’s back to back grumble fest. Each character perfectly blending the tirade of the other in a communication that only happen between a Homer and his favorite kid, just so long as ice cream is involved. Homer’s parenting skills aren’t so bad, considering Bart’s evil twin hasn’t been located by prying eyes of Springfield.

Marge always knows. She was able to sense when Bart sold his soul to Millhouse. She got cold chills when he switched lunch snacks. The tie between Bart and Marge is so much stronger than the thread she uses to track him. That string is tight enough to choke him, even if she won’t admit she’s doing it.

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At one point, Bart makes his escape through darkness of Springfield’s night, which is very much like it is during the day. So much so that it mirrors quitting time in the opening. The Simpsons take all the illusions out of the illusions with their self-conscious self-references and the people of Springfield are all in on it. Is it any wonder El Barto gets away with so much?

I did like Homer’s rationale for giving Flanders giving back the dog. He doesn’t like to see Flanders sad. He doesn’t like to see him happy or contented or miffed either. He doesn’t like to see Flanders and giving the dog back has a certain bitchy nobility. Old Homer, someone fatter than Santa, learned a new trick.

Santa’s Little Helper is always the odd dog out. The noble greyhound, like many family around the country and abroad and possibly on other planets and in other dimensions, is neglected consistently throughout the show. But Santa’s Little Helper isn’t as disregarded shabbily as the series of cats that have lived on Evergreen Terrace, or even Maggie, who can disappear for an entire episode if it’s too much trouble to write her in. In this episode, which is ostensibly about the nut-munching mutt, he’s got like thirty seconds of screen time. If that. And he has no real lines to speak of. Sure, we learn that he never chooses jazz, which means he’s not even good company for the other lonely Simpson kid.

Bart grows a conscience? Nobody wants to see Bart grow a conscience. The unexamined life may not be worth living, but it is so much more fun to watch. It might be Marge’s job to keep Bart in line, but when his senseless destruction takes on a literary bent, albeit in two-to-three letter increments, he’s gone too far. Or not far enough. We want Bart to go too far. We don’t care if he winds up on Leper’s Island without a paddle. And to have him learn a lesson? When it wasn’t something he copied off Martin? That’s going – not far enough. Sure, a tribute to the Fire Department is as inane as an existential flip off with an archaic reference, fie, but at least he still got to knock down nine of the letters of the SPRINGFIELD sign.

The throwaway gags were alright, but the episode needed more of them. Maggie’s Whack-A-Mole defeat was a standalone classic. Willie chases Bart back to his mother with the mangled sobs of Scotland’s one song in its 1200 year history blared through the bagpipes. This episode also had its subversive humor. Ralph Wiggum showing the early signs of the delirium he will succumb to when he becomes a cop like his dad. The Flanders children saved from bad thoughts about Maggie Simpson only because they thought she was a cousin. Mahershalalhashbaz is the name of the prophet Isaiah’s first son. He only gets mentioned once in the Bible, but his name is the longest word in the book. Flanders teaches the dog to play dead, resurrect and sit at the right hand of Todd.

Eyes mean a lot on The Simpsons. Yes, they are just a tiny dot to us viewers, but we moan and look away every time a space needle is aimed at a cartoon cat. “Peeping Mom” refers to Marge keeping a watchful eye on Bart. Keeping her eyes peeled for one slipup that will finger him in the bulldozer incident that took out the Bulldozer store. She doesn’t want Bart to end up in the Big House, a convict whose only claim to fame is that his eyeballs popped further than any other man on death row.

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That tiny ink-dot has the power to signal Marge’s lazy watchful eye on Maggie. Such is the power of animation. The Simpsons have become too glossily animated. I miss the rough edges and the stray lines of the early episodes. The sharper the image, the less sharp the humor and tonight it came packed in bubble wrap. At least Bart didn’t call off the prank altogether. That would have been tragic.

“Peeping Mom” was written by John Frink and directed by Mark Kirkland. The Simpsons stars Dan Castellaneta as Homer Simpson, Julie Kavner as Marge Simpson, Pattie and Selma Bouvier, Nancy Cartwright as Bart Simpson, Yeardley Smith as Lisa Simpson. Hank Azaria plays Chief Wiggum, Carl Carlson, Moe Szyslak, and Apu Nahasapeemapetilon. Harry Shearer is Ned Flanders.

But It All Went By So Fast:  King Homer in opening. Bulldozer Store. In Escrow: Gil Henderson Realty. Oh Fudge Milk Chocolate. People Food. Mountain Doo. Worst Diorama ever.


2.5 out of 5